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CHILDREN OF PROMISE by Charles Sullivan

CHILDREN OF PROMISE

African-American Literature and Art for Young People

By Charles Sullivan

Age Range: 8 & up

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-8109-3170-2
Publisher: Abrams

 Though the intention here is admirable, the subtitle is misleading at best. An introduction by Mary Schmidt Campbell remarks that the book ``lets us hear...voices from the American past--Black and White--who bear the evidence of a country striving toward the reconciliation between the real and the ideal'': a more accurate summary of the content. There are plenty of white representations of African Americans--or even, like a photo of a white child at work in a cotton mill, representations of those only tangentially related to the black experience; other illustrations are simply journalistic photos of political figures. The ``literature'' consists of spirituals, poems familiar and unfamiliar, and excerpts from many sources, including Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun (a page), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (a paragraph), a speech by Booker T. Washington (three sentences), and the 23rd Psalm. Much of the art is powerful (e.g., several paintings by Jacob Lawrence), and some of the pairings are inspired (two sonnets about New York, by the contemporaneous Claude McKay and James Weldon Johnson, with similar themes and very different styles). There's much of value, then, but the whole is little more than a pastiche of ideas and images of varying quality. Biographical notes are brief; many include no clue to the race of the author or artist. Credits, but no index to the artists; the ``Poetry Title and Author Index,'' fortunately, includes prose. (Nonfiction. 8+)